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April 11, 2013

Song of the Week - April 11, 2013

Song: "Unraveling"
Artist: Dir En Grey
Album: The Unraveling (2013)


One of my most favorite bands is the Japanese metal band Dir En Grey. Formed in 1997, the band consists of the unchanged lineup of Kyo (京) on vocals, Kaoru (薫) and Die on guitars, Toshiya on bass, and Shinya on drums. They have released eight studio albums: the first one being 1999's Gauze and the most recent one being 2011's Dum Spiro Spero.

I first came across Dir En Grey when I first began studying the Japanese language. Although I wasn't familiar about the language at the time, I soon found myself listening to them more because of their unique sound. Unlike most other metal bands that I often listen to, Dir En Grey's musical style, since the band's inception, clearly continues to evolve after every release. The next release always sounds different to a specific degree compared to the previous release. The band's first releases introduced their experimental and progressive rock sound that was more akin to alternative rock and pop rock, which appropriately accompanied their visual kei outfit at the time. In the following years, the band started to incorporate particular aspects from other music genres into their music, such as electronic, industrial, oriental, and the death metal, nu metal, and metalcore subgenres of metal. The visual kei outfit they initially wore slowly dissipated, and their overall sound grew darker and heavier. Additionally, Kyo's vocals, which encompass a very wide range from low, death growls to very high screams, are another highlighting aspect of Dir En Grey's sound. Kyo's vocals strongly tie with each song's overall mood and tone, and most importantly, the lyrics, most of which Kyo wrote, which regularly implicitly discusses about usually controversial and sensitive topics. In short, Dir En Grey, because of their gradually changing musical style, is a progressive, experimental, and perhaps, avant-garde, metal band.

Anyway, "Unraveling" is the opening track and the only new song from Dir En Grey's latest release from last week - a mini-album or extended play identically titled The Unraveling. A moderately-paced song that displays the band's current musical style and sound, "Unraveling" starts simple, all of the band performing what they do best - Kaoru, Die, Toshiya, and Shinya provide the shreds, riffs, and rhythms that make this song interesting to listen to from the get-go, and Kyo focusing on clean, high vocals. The overall tone of the song is similarly dark as Dir En Grey's previous release, "輪郭" ("Rinkaku"), but heavier like most of the band's most recent songs. A little past the beginning of the final half of the song, Kyo carefully lets everything out with his signature screams and the overall energy of the song immediately heightens to the end. In short, "Unraveling" is a song that is clearly and exclusively Dir En Grey's. Although the song shares the overall darkness and heaviness from most recent songs, its groove clearly labels it as a new song.

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